New ferry maintenance barge will allow 3 boats to moor; King County Ferry District may be merged into County
The King County Ferry District has installed a new maintenance and moorage barge that King County Councilmember (and KCFD Chair) said,"It has a bit more work to do and the utilities to hook up. It will give us a place to have offices and tie up three separate boats. We're about to receive the "Spirit of Kingston" from the federal government, a free gift actually. The barge will be a place where we can moor our third boat.
As to the future of the KCFD McDermott said, "There's legislation in Olympia to consolidate what is a separate government entity, the King County Ferry District, into King County Government. Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon is the prime sponsor and it has moved out of the House and is now before the Senate. It will be a little while before they can schedule hearings. That will allow us to spend the money that we currently spend on administration of the government on service provision. The ferry district is supported by a property tax. The authority is 7.5 cents. It was originally levied at a nickel, but then it was lowered to 1/3 of one cent. All being per one thousand dollars of assessed value. At 1/3 of one cent it is not sustainable. When we were at a nickel we built up a cash balance and we are using that now. But the property tax and fare recovery are not keeping up with expenses. At sometime in 2016 we actually go negative. We go in the red and will have to cease operating. Moving the district into the county will provide for some efficiency and also gives us the case to build political will to address the level of property tax, but it would not ever mean raising it to five cents again. Somewhere closer to a cent or two."
The question of the future for where the water taxi will dock is still in process. The Colman Dock is slated for replacement meaning where the water taxi offloads will need to change. McDermott said, "We're still having conversations with Washington State Ferries. We are now very much agreed that we will be part of the project but the exact costs, where, how and division of space is still being worked out. While we have preferred a slip on the north side of the Colman Dock, for a number of reasons we have conceded that we are looking at the south side similar to where we are now. We are looking at trying to mitigate making it the best space we can since we're not going to the north."